Club 20 concensus: No to ColoradoCare
Club 20 on Friday weighed in against a ballot measure that would establish a single-payer health care system in Colorado.
The board of the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization voted to oppose Amendment 69 on the November ballot after Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, urged a vote.
Voter approval of the measure, called ColoradoCare, would drive out physicians while attracting out-of-state people suffering expensive medical conditions, imposing “massive costs” on the state, Schwenke said.
“There is a real fear we’ll lose our best and brightest” in the medical industry, Schwenke said.
Such a measure also would harm rural regions such as Club 20’s area, which includes most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado, because it would tend to concentrate health care services in urban areas, forcing rural residents to travel to obtain services, Schwenke said.
The measure calls for a single-payer system operated by an elected board of trustees, which supporters say would be less expensive and more accessible for patients.
It would be funded by a 10 percent payroll tax that would raise $25 billion.
The state budget currently under discussion in the Legislature is a $27 billion spending plan.
Employers would bear the major cost of the measure, paying a 6 percent payroll tax and employees would pay a 3 percent tax. The remaining 1 percent would come from “nonpayroll income,” the ColoradoCare website says.
Small businesses, such as S corporations, limited partnerships and farms could face double taxation as they would pay the payroll taxes and 10 percent of any profit they bring in, Schwenke said.
The measure, meanwhile, “does absolutely nothing to focus on what drives up our health care costs,” Schwenke said.
No elected officials in Colorado have supported the measure, said Brian Ahern of San Miguel County, who noted that it had been supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Ahern moved to oppose the measure.
Amendment 69 is opposed by former governors Bill Ritter and Bill Owens, a Democrat and Republican respectively, as well as Gov. John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat.
The board also approved support for sales tax of up to 7.5 cents on every $100 for transportation improvements.
Club 20’s spring meeting continues today at Two Rivers Convention Center with legislative and congressional updates and addresses by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and keynote speaker Astor Boozer of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.